The Store-Bought Shortcut For Quick Japanese-Style Curries

Japanese-style curry may be one of the most comforting, satisfying meals you can make with store-bought, pre-made ingredients. There are both normal spice mixes and blocks, which are little squares of curry spices that you drop right into the pan with water for an instant curry. Japanese curry blocks incorporate not just spices, but also a roux base, which is why you can combine them with nothing but water and still get a thick, flavorful curry. There are numerous brands that you can get off the shelf including popular names like S&B's Golden Curry, Vermont, and Torokeru. Some more common brands like S&B are available in the international sections of many American grocery stores, and the others are easy to find online.

Served with vegetables, potatoes, and meat over rice, Japanese curry is a savory, stew-like dish with complex spice mixtures at its base. Usually less hot than the Indian and South Asian curries it evolved from, it's still an incredibly flavorful and hearty dish with a complex balance of spices, sweetness, and mild heat. While it's possible to make Japanese curry from homemade spice mixes and a thickening roux, part of the reason it's such a popular family dish in Japan is that pre-made mixes are ubiquitous.

Japanese-style curry blocks make a quick and delicious dinner

Grab some Japanese curry blocks, and you'll quickly understand why they're such a popular family dinner option in their home country. Being able to create an instant curry transforms it from a project into a meal you can make in under 30 minutes. The blocks are relatively inexpensive, and when mixed with rice and meat or vegetables one can easily feed five or more people. If you can make white rice, then you can have a warming plate of spiced curry on your plate in no time.

All Japanese curries have some common ingredients beyond the sauce and rice, but they're also very customizable, so you can use up a lot of leftovers in your fridge. Because of the unusual history of Japanese curry, being brought by the British to Japan from India and South Asia, it often incorporates items common to European stews like potatoes, carrots, and peas. Apples, either grated or diced, are also common, and give Japanese curry a mild sweetness that makes it unique from other styles. Sweet potato, mushrooms, and onion go great with curry. Chicken or stew beef are always welcome, but not necessary, as the flavorful curry means vegetarian versions are still plenty tasty. With so many options for such an easy dinner, Japanese curry blocks make for a fantastic and reliable pantry staple.